Flying stories often get inputs at every point of reportage, most especially when mischief makers are out to use a story to their advantage.

In most cases, if it’s not exaggerated, it might be watered down or, in some other cases, vital parts of the incident could be buried to suit the purpose of mischief makers, which centres on misleading the public and smearing the image of their victims.

For instance, recently, we saw how some civil servants prostrated as they pleaded with Governor Ayodele Fayose to forgive them for coming late to work when the governor visited the state’s secretariat unannounced. Like or hate Fayose, any objective commentator should acknowledge that he was not wrong by visiting the secretariat unannounced and those errant staff did all they did to seek his face, not under duress but out of fear of the penalty of their malfeasance.

The staff who over time had internalised tardiness are to be blamed any way we choose to look at it. But some folks took that as an opportunity to attack Fayose. Some called him a tout, a rouge and all sort of names, claiming he subjected the errant staff who flouted their employment contracts with the state by coming late to work to inhumane treatment.

This brings me to the story flying around about the minister of interior, General Dambazau’s meeting with top officials of the Nigerian Prisons Service.

Dambazau was supposed to meet top prison officers for 9 a.m. on a day recently, and he arrived at the meeting venue at the scheduled time, waited for some 30 minutes and then left for his office, because those he wanted to meet were yet to arrive the meeting venue. According to a source, after the the senior officers arrived at the venue and got wind of the fact that their minster had come and gone, they rushed to his office, and in the usual eye service associated with such offenders, started rolling on the floor, begging the minister to forgive them.

Regrettably, when the story got out, detractors had given it a completely different spin. The minister was labelled as “authoritarian” and “draconian.” The indolent late-comers became subjects of sympathy! Is this part of the change we expect in institutional conduct and ethos attendant upon the coming in of a new administration? Are civil servants supposed to keep being cogs in the wheel of progress?

Why should senior prison officers be kneeling down to beg a minister when they should be the wheels of a new dawn of Change? Dambazau’s military background might make him appear like a no nonsense man, but who can say that we do not need a dose of discipline to regain lost ground?

Dambazau deserves commendation for coming earlier to a meeting to wait for those he was supposed to meet. Top staff of the service who invited him but came late while their guest was waiting should be ashamed of themselves and turn a new leaf, shikena!

Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja.